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Report of the Diocese of Rupert's Land, by the Bishop and Clergy at the Red-River Settlement.

London: Watts, 1867.

WE, the Bishop of Rupert's Land and the Clergy of the Red River Settlement, submit the following statement of the present position of the Church of this Diocese, and the measures necessary for its stability and growth:--

1. We give praise and thanks to Almighty God for his signal and undeserved goodness to this land; in giving it such favour with Societies and many Christian people in England, that for upwards of forty years they have, at much cost, maintained an extended in this country the religion of Christ; in leading the late Bishop of this diocese, the Ven. Archdeacons Cockran and Hunter, and many other devoted servants of God, no longer with us, to come to this isolated part of the world, and labour here for many years in the most self-denying spirit; and in evidently accompanying the preaching of the word with the power of the Spirit of God. The knowledge of the Lord has been kept up among the Christian families that have settled in this land; and many hundreds of precious souls have been brought from the darkness and bondage of heathenism to rejoice in the light and liberty of the Gospel.

2. We feel it a bounden and delightful duty to acknowledge the eternal gratitude which the people of this land owe, under God, to the Church Missionary Society pre-eminently; also to the Society for the Propagation of the [1/2] Gospel in Foreign Parts, to the Colonial and Continental Church Society, to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, to the British and Foreign Bible Society, and to other Societies and friends in England, for the provision of the means of grace. At the present moment all the clergymen, catechists, and schoolmasters, labouring in this country, in connexion with our Church, are paid by funds from England. The only endowment is that of the Bishopric. Its income, about 700l. a-year, is derived partly from the interest of a fund left to the Church by a gentleman of the Hudson's-bay Company, and partly from a grant of 300l. a-year attached to the See by that Honourable Company.

3. We would record the loving affection with which we regard the late Bishop of Rupert's Land, and our sense of the devotion with which, regardless of personal labour, annoyances, and expense, he laboured for the diocese that was committed to his care. It is enough to say, that such was the interest he aroused at home, and such the favour that his efforts obtained there, that whereas, when he came out in 1849, there were only five clergymen maintained in this land, there were, when he resigned the Bishopric in 1846, no fewer than twenty-two, besides many catechists and schoolmasters. Of these twenty-two clergymen, eight were natives of the country. One, alas! of these, giving much promise of future usefulness, has been since taken to his rest.

4. We wish further to express our admiration of the character and single-mindedness of that venerable father of the Churches of this Settlement, Archdeacon Cockran, who lately died at his post of duty, after a devoted ministry in this land of forty years. He saw the beginning and first-fruits of the Gospel in this hitherto [2/3] heathen land, and he could not tear himself away from his spiritual children. Several of the Churches of this Settlement owe their origin to his labours. He might have said to their congregations, in the words of St. Paul, "Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel."

5. The diocese of Rupert's Land may be conveniently divided into two parts; the one being the Red-River Settlement, and the other the rest of that immense tract of country known as Rupert's Land, a region nearly as large as Europe.

6. The Red-River Settlement lies chiefly along the banks of the Red Driver and its tributary, the Assiniboine, which falls into the Red River about forty miles from its mouth. The Protestant part of the community live almost entirely along the Assiniboine and that part of the Red River between its junction with the Assiniboine and Lake Winnipeg. The length of this portion of the Settlement, from the extreme of the parish of St. Mary's, Portage la Prairie, on the Assiniboine, to the end of the Indian Settlement, near Lake Winnipeg, is 100 miles. There are in this district eleven parishes, which are provided with churches and school chapels, and which either now have, or at some time have had, a resident clergyman. They are Westbourne, St. Mary's, Portage la Prairie, St. Margaret's at High Bluff, St. Ann's at the Poplars, Headingley, and St. James', on the Assiniboine, and St. John's, St. Paul's, St. Andrew's, St. Clement's, Mapleton, and St. Peter's, on the Indian Settlement on the Red River. There are ministering to these parishes the bishop, six clergymen, and a licensed catechist at St. Paul's. The population in communion with our [3/4] Church may be roughly estimated at 4000; but the population is so thinly scattered along the line of Settlement, and there are such long intervals without houses, that the Churches have necessarily to be at great distances from each other, making it difficult for any two to be served by one clergyman. There are still hundreds of heathen and wandering Indians scattered throughout the Settlement, some of them quite hardened against Christianity.

7. The members of our Church are partly converted Indians, partly half-breeds, from the marriages of Europeans and Indian women with a few Europeans. There have been some settlers from Canada and the United States within the last few years; but the rest of the European population may be regarded as either having come with the Selkirk emigration from Sutherlandshire early in the century, or having been introduced by the Hudson's-Bay Company as labourers in their employment. The Company bring out every year, from the north of Scotland, a number of labourers, many of whom, after the period for which they are engaged, generally five years, or even sooner, find their way to the Settlement. There is an entire absence as yet, in this land, of that important class of emigrants from the mother country that do so much to give spirit and healthy life to other colonies--gentlemen, farmers, or well-to-do labourers, of enterprise and a little capital, emigrating to try their chance in a new country.

8. Owing to land being obtainable at a merely nominal rate, and the cheapness of animals and grain, there is a good deal of comfort among industrious families. But from the extraordinary isolation of this country--for it is still about 400 miles from the nearest town, or rather [4/5] village, of the United States--there is little opportunity given to any of the inhabitants of seeing the customs of civilized life. The result is, a peculiar social condition. Nearly every thing, except the common necessaries of life, can be obtained best and cheapest by importing from England. This can be done at a cost for conveyance of about sevenpence per pound. Perhaps the state of things may be best understood from the fact, that there is no one in the country following the business or trade of a tailor, a shoemaker, or a watchmaker. Only within the last two or three years has there been the commencement of a village, in the building and opening of a few shops of stores.

It is believed that there are various occupations which the resources of the land and the needs of the present population would allow of being carried on with profit, that, from the apathy of the people, from want of intercourse with the world, have not been attempted. Anxious hopes are entertained that the time is not far distant when the vast tracts of land in this country, capable of maintaining a large and prosperous population, may be made accessible to emigrants. At present, men without capital, who would soon get a comfortable living here, are unable to come, from the expense of the journey; and men with capital have no sufficient inducement, from the isolation of the country.

9. The European population having been almost entirely drawn from the north of Scotland, where Presbyterian opinions are held with peculiar tenacity, their affections are not with the order and forms of our Church. The portion connected with the Selkirk emigration were further embittered by a feeling which, whether justly or unjustly, they had, of not having been dealt with in good [5/6] faith, as they alleged that a Presbyterian minister had been promised them when they emigrated.

10. For a period of thirty years they, however, attended the services of the Church; but at length, notwithstanding that much was yielded to their Presbyterian scruples, to the serious infringement of the order of the Church, they took the first opportunity of forming a separate communion. The sum of 50l. having been voted by the Hudson's-Bay Company, to help in the payment of a Presbyterian minister, a secession took place. Almost the whole of the Selkirk emigrants, and many of the other Scotch, joined the seceding section. There are now two Presbyterian ministers, many elders, and three chapels, belonging to them in the Settlement.

11. In consequence, partly of this want of sympathy with the Church on the part of the original European settlers, and partly of a feeling that the people were little able to give, nothing has ever been systematically and continuously obtained from the members of the Church for the support of the ordinances of religion: there seems to have been the fear that the apostle felt lest the Gospel should be hindered.

12. But without passing any opinion upon the past, we feel that it is our bounden duty to encourage the members of our congregations to give liberally and ungrudgingly of the substance with which God has blessed them, for the support of the means of grace which they enjoy. It is the Lord's will that those that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. Most of the families in this land are as able to give a little as many of these children of God in England, who, from their penury give for the Lord's sake. We cannot expect that there will be real sympathy [6/7] with the prosperity of the Church, and a full enjoyment of the means of grace, till the members of the Church feel and take up their privilege of showing forth this fruit of righteousness.

13. We propose, therefore, that a fund be formed or the sustentation of the ministrations of the Church in Rupert's Land, to be called "The Rupert's-Land Diocesan Fund." We also agree, in accordance with the wish of the Church Missionary Society, to divide this fund into


14. There is at present a small assessment on occupiers of pews, which helps to meet church expenses. This charge is little more than nominal, and acts as an acknowledgement of the appropriation of the seats. It is thought best to retain it. The simplest way to obtain further help seems to be, to make use of the Offertory, collecting at morning service from pew to pew. In the afternoon and evening services it will be probably better for a time to collect by a plate placed at the door to receive any further gifts. The money thus collected, after the payment of the church expenses and the giving of alms to poor widows and other really necessitous members of the congregation, will go to the Diocesan Fund. As long as any parish of the Settlement is ministered to by a Missionary of the Church Missionary Society, the contributions from the Offertory of that parish shall go to the Missionary branch of that fund.

15. Beyond the limits of the Settlement in the vast wilderness of Rupert's Land, in which there are only suppose to be 60,000 or 70,000 Indians, scattered over [7/8] a region almost the size of Europe, there are numerous Missions of the Church Missionary Society, and one Mission of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Some of these Missions are very distant and difficult of access. For example, there are Church Missionary Society's Missions at the Youcon, more than 2500 miles from the Settlement; and at Fort Simpson, Moose, York Factory, and English River, at the respective distances of 2000, 1200, 800, and 700 miles. Besides these, there are Missions of the same Society at Christ Church, Cumberland, the Nepowewin, Fairford, and Fort Alexander, and one Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Mission at Fort Ellice, widely separated from each other, but in more convenient connexion with each other and with the Settlement. These Missions are all represented by clergymen. There are other stations under these clergymen occupied by native catechists and schoolmasters.

16. There has been more or less success given to the labours of these Missionaries. To most of the stations there is attached a considerable number of professing Christian Indians, and a small body of communicants; but in general, except for short periods of the year, they cannot be congregated in any number. The nature of the country, and the means of livelihood are such that the Indian population is necessarily scattered. In almost any part of the country, excepting at the trading ports or a Mission station, where a few families may constantly reside, a person may travel in any direction for days without chancing upon a single Indian. The difficulties of existence in the case of the native, and of carrying on the work of a Missionary among such a scattered people, are almost inconceivable to those who have not been in the land.

[9] 17. The heathen Indians possess absolutely nothing in the world but their tent, blanket, gun, and kettle, and these they almost always have in advance from the Company. In some cases the Indian converts in the stations nearer the Settlement possess cottages, farming implements, and a few cattle. But in those uncultivated wastes--uncultivated only because not inhabited--the possession of these articles rather gives a more comfortable livelihood to the possessor, than means for giving to others.

18. These Indians can therefore be expected, when they have the will, to give but very little. Indeed, it is impossible to see how, whilst the circumstances of their country remain as they now are, they can ever even appreciably sustain the means of grace amongst them. It is to be hoped, therefore, that endowments may be given in time by gentlemen who have made a fortune in the service of the Company, or otherwise by trading in the land, or else by friends of the Indian, so as to release the Society that has so long munificently maintained Missions in this land from their heavy expenditure; or the time may come, when the south of this land, becoming the home for prosperous people, they may be able to minister to the Indians without foreign aid. But we have to do with the present. We think, therefore, that though the Indians can give but very little, they should be taught the privilege of giving something. In the first place, they should learn not to look for any pecuniary help from the Missionaries. They ought, further, to be impressed with the fact, that Christianity imposes practice as well as belief, and that it recognises as a first duty the being temperate and industrious, so as to be independent of the help of [9/10] others; to be able to give to the Lord for the support of the Gospel, and yet to have to give to him that needeth. An Indian often gives skins for rum and spirits, to his own ruin. He may therefore well spare a skin now and then for the Lord's service, as a thank-offering for his receiving the knowledge of God's inestimable gift.

19. It has been proposed by the Church Missionary Society that every Missionary of that Society should be able to pass a satisfactory examination in the Indian language that is chiefly spoken where he is labouring before the close of his third year. We feel that it is of first importance that a Missionary should thus master, as early as possible, the language of those he is amongst. It must contribute much to his influence and usefulness to be able to dispense with an interpreter, and the present generation can only be approached through their own language. At the same time, there are so few persons speaking any individual Indian language, and there is such necessary intercourse between them and those engaged in the trade of skins and furs who speak English, that it is most desirable, in the instruction of children, and in the training of catechists, and in every other possible way, to give great prominency to the English language. Indians who do not know English must ever be shut out from almost every source of information, excepting, perhaps, the Bible and Prayer-book. But for the attention paid to English by the Missionaries of this Settlement, a great proportion of the congregations in the north of the Settlement, consisting of the majority of our people, would to-day have only understood their Indian language, whereas they now, in a great measure, understand and speak the English language.

[11] 20. We think the subject of translating and printing even the Bible and Prayer-book in the various languages of this country deserving of a good deal of consideration: the expense must be so great, and the number top whom the work would be a benefit so few. Probably, in most cases it would be better, considering the many calls upon the funds of the Societies, to be satisfied in these tribes with the selection of some important passages from the Old Testament, and the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John, and the Epistle to the Romans from the New Testament. As regards the Liturgy, the Missionaries might well prepare translations in writing for themselves and the catechists, and accustom the people to take up their part.

21. It is impossible not to feel very thankful for the many bright spots standing out over the face of the country, lovely amid the heathen wilderness. The devotion leading men to labour in these stations, so secluded from friends and society, cannot be too highly praised. But at the same time these Missions are, by their circumstances, very unmanageable, helpless, and expensive. To reach some of them, hundreds and thousands of Indians are passed by, and left in their heathen darkness. We would by no means recommend any withdrawing from ground on which the standard of the Cross has been raised, and where God not seldom has given evidences of His blessing. But we would strongly advise any future advances to be in the direction from this to the Rocky Mountains, along the Saskatchewan river. There would be much greater hope of the Missions so planted becoming stable and centres from which further advances could be easily made. Operations could be carried on at much less expense. Souls everywhere are equally precious. There is an important post near [11/12] Carlton, which it would be well now to occupy. We would strongly advise that there should be no renewal of the Mission at Churchill. Mr. Kirkby has written desiring a labourer to be sent to an interesting station in his wide district, where he has commenced a chapel. If there were a native catechist prepared, it might be well to have him there, but woe could not recommend sending out a Missionary.

22. Turning from the more immediate work of the ministry to that which is closely bound up with it--the education of the young--we regret to have to report that there is not a school at present in the diocese belonging to the Church but in the parishes where they are maintained by the Church Missionary Society, and St. Paul's, where the salary of the teacher is paid out of the Bishop's Diocesan Fund. We shall, however, at once make an effort to raise subscriptions in our several parishes. In two of them a beginning has been already made. The Church Missionary Society deals most liberally wherever it has a station; but it seems almost an impossibility in the wilderness of this country to have any school, in the more distant stations, unless the children are gathered together, and for the time maintained: the Indian families, for their subsistence, have of necessity to be so scattered.

23. There is a very great want in this Settlement of any higher school, or of a school to receive the sons of the officers of the Company scattered throughout Rupert's Land. As a result, there are no young men preparing for holy orders for the ministry in this Settlement. The time was when there was a sufficient school; but that school has not existed for some years. The want of this makes the people feel themselves in a worse position than they were many years ago. There are no longer such young [12/13] men as Bishop Anderson had it in his power to encourage for the ministry. The Bishop is to make inquiries throughout the country, to learn more accurately its wants and the pecuniary resources of the country itself towards such an establishment. In the mean time the catechist of St. Paul's has commenced to board pupils. He has fifteen now, and is proposing to obtain from England a classical teacher.

24. Some Theological Institution in the diocese is, however, absolutely necessary, if the work of the Church in the Settlement, and throughout its extensive Mission fields, is to be stable and abiding. There are now several catechists of the Church Missionary Society that might, with some training of a systematic kind, be fully put in charge of congregations. The Missionaries would have to prepare such catechists, but when they had proved themselves to a certain degree efficient, they should receive some course of instruction. It has been proposed, that instead of staying for a year or so at an Institution for this purpose, they should come from time to time to the Bishop to be examined and directed by him. But however satisfactorily this might work in any other country, it is almost impracticable here: the distances and isolation of posts are so great, a catechist at a station could have little intercourse with the Missionary over him. The journey to the Bishop would be very expensive, and would occupy a long time. Besides, there is such a want of character and system, and such an easiness of disposition in the Indian constitutionally, that he particularly needs some course of instruction and guiding. Those who have seen the happy results of this training in the past cannot too strongly urge the necessity of this course.

25. But we have to consider not only how a Native [13/14] Church amongst us can be led to self-supporting and self-extending, but how self-government can be introduced. If we ask the people to give, we must give them a voice in the disposing of their gifts. Besides, the building up of the Church must depend much on its members being led to feel themselves a part of that Church. We propose, therefore, having in every parish, as already exists in some, a vestry of two churchwardens and four vestrymen, to be presided over by the Incumbent of the parish, for the conducting of all parish business; and the Bishop intends to call together a Conference, or partial Synod, of all licensed clergy within reach, and a lay-representative from each parish, for the consideration of questions and measures bearing on the whole Church of the diocese. It has not yet been settled how the vestries and lay-representatives of the parishes shall be elected; but most probably the course followed by the Church in Canada will be adopted.

26. We have, in conclusion, only to say, that we feel sadly at present, that though there never has been more devotion and love for souls shown than by those who have laboured in this land, yet he words in a late number of the "Church Missionary Intelligencer" but truly describe the position of this Church--"There may be the individual spiritual life, but there is no corporate life." We hope to bring out this corporate life; and, while throwing more upon our people, and seeking to lead them to interest themselves in the prosperity and growth of the Church, we shall exert ourselves to give them a deeper sense of the privileges of faith and loving members of the Church. For this purpose we propose having the Lord's Supper administered monthly, forming classes for church music, encouraging hearty responding, bringing out carefully the teaching of the [14/15] Church's yearly course, and leading our people, as far as we can, to an affectionate regard for the order and services of our Church.

But whilst thus anxiously giving our thoughts to obtaining for our people the inestimable blessing of the stable building amongst them of that pure and reformed Church to which we belong, it is our desire to count nothing dear but that we may, with the apostle, finish our course with joy, and the ministry, which we believe we have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God. We hope to be found pure from the blood of all men in not shunning to declare unto them all the counsel of God. We would ask the prayers of God's children that the great Head of the Church may abundantly bless our efforts, giving us power with our people, bestowing on them a willing mind, and withal, as in times past, opening a wide door and effectual for the Gospel to many hearts.

ABRAHAM COWLEY, Missionary of C. M. S.
JOHN CHAPMAN, C. and C. Ch. S.
W. H. TAYLOR, S. P. G., St. James's.
HENRY GEORGE, C.M.S., La Prairie.
JOSEPH P. GARDINER, C.M.S., St. Andrew's.
HENRY COCHRANE, C. and C. Ch. S., Headingley.

December, 1865.

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